It is the 17th of October, which means eight months and one week ago today I was standing blurry-eyed on the sidewalk at Incheon International Airport with my suitcases. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I may as well have been drunk for the latter half of January and all of February, as I recall little to nothing of that time, at least nothing that seems like it wasn’t a dream. On second thought, had I actually been drunk for all of that time, I am certain it would have been a more pleasant month.

I am officially closer to the end than to the beginning, and that is both liberating and eye-rolling. My eye-rolling sounds like this: “Really? I have to do this for four more freaking months?” With this pending monthversary looming on the horizon, I have found myself stuck with the number 11 in my head. I am not sure if this is because the day itself falls on the 11th, or because I feel mentally closer to eleven than eight. A crushing disappointment for the impatient.

The last two months have been exquisite socially, as I have unearthed many dear new friends and have seen this city in a whole new way. I cannot say the same for my job, which is tiresome and monotonous and repetitive. On a good day. October in particular has been trying, at best. In recent weeks, decisions have been made. Decisions regarding The Future. And these decisions, well…I want it all to start now. To complicate matters, some irritating health issues have led me to the subsequent yet predictable “I Want To Leave” syndrome. This is not unlike the Great Crash of 2007, when the freezing of my overworked laptop quickly found me tailspinning into feelings of helplessness and being marooned on a desert island. That’s a perfectly reasonable reaction, no?

OK, it is entirely possible that it’s been that special time of the month when one’s hormones are unfairly influencing one’s emotions. When things become slightly “exaggerated”, say, or develop an overwhelming sense of urgency. Where “I am sick of teaching” quickly turns to “I would rather die than teach one more Korean child nothing about English”. Where “I am excited for The Future!” heads down a slippery slope into “I am trapped and suffocating in Korea. I want The Future to start now!”

I am in the middle of an airy fairy spiritual New York Times Bestselling Memoir, which I will refrain from naming as I’ve already said too much. It is one of those books that has crossed my path for the last year and I’ve yawned at it saying, “It’s very popular. It can’t possibly be any good.” The jury is still out on that one.

What I do know is that I am essentially reading my own life-story of the last ten years, and while there are many differences in our life circumstances, the similarities between the inner-workings of the author’s brain and my own are eerie. Today I stumbled upon this passage:

Here you are in India, in an Ashram in one of the holiest pilgrimage sites on earth. And instead of communing with the divine, you’re trying to plan where you’ll be meditating a year from now in a home that doesn’t exist yet in a city yet to be determined. How about this, you spastic fool — how about you try to meditate right here, right now, right where you actually are?

This whole Be Here Now thing is not news to me. It was simply the mirror I needed to look into today, right here, right now.

So today: I ran a really strong five kilometers, I had Vietnamese noodles and frozen yogurt with two lovely new co-workers, I watched the speed skaters at Lotte World and bought blue shoes for ten dollars. And for one whole day, I did not think (very much) about the past eight months or the next four. Just right here, right now.

blue shoes-1.jpg

9 Responses to “Eleventeen”

  1. Miss E says:

    Airy-fairy is a good way to put it. I enjoyed the book, but more for my own reflective process than for anything she experienced. I’d be interested to hear what you think overall, if you feel like sharing.

  2. emdot says:

    I totally get the whole “jury still out” on that book — I felt much the same, but finally just surrendered to it. It really became a yes yes yes book for me. But I also resisted. Also — I resisted the most in India which is much closer to me than the rest of the book. All that to say, I thought of YOU so much when I was reading it. For whatever reason, or maybe just bc you are living far away from home? I don’t know. But seriously, you kept popping into my mind while reading it.

    What are your health issues, if you can say?

  3. Stephanie says:

    That’s a good way to put it, Miss E. The reason I’m enjoying it is for my own self-reflection. And I remember you saying that, M. which is why it’s making me laugh every time there is a moment of recognition. Which is every page pretty much.

    I’m in India now. It is the point of deepest recognition for me so far. I have fought those same battles in meditation halls and yoga studios. And I’ve seen the same victories.

    As for health, I won’t say but it is a chronic issue from which I’ve had several years respite. It is nothing life-threatening, so no freak-out emails are necessary. I meant it when I said “irritating”.

  4. Meera says:

    I just want to say I kind of love you for not loving teaching. I mean, it’s totally a selfish, warped kind of love. But still.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Hey Steph,
    I know the book. Just finished it. For the most part it was unique but she turns real again in the end. There is hope but watch out who you connect up with. Now the shoes, nice. I am a shoe freak and I do wear mine. I love really cute, really comfortable. WEAR THEM.

  6. Leilani says:

    I knew the book you meant the minute you said “airy fairy spiritual New York Times Bestselling Memoir.” I too have wanted to read it, but have resisted due to a variety of circumstances. And I agree for us Caps, living in the moment here and now is darned tough to do. I find myself trying to do that at odd times like riding the subway, or waiting in a doctor’s office. Let me know how it goes with you. Talk later Stephie,


  7. tina miely says:

    Hmm, am I totally off the mark that I have no idea what said book is? Can someone say the title for this gal in the mountains who buys books at small local store based on colorful covers?

  8. Ann says:

    As I love to remain ignorant on which book you are referring to, I will say that I’m reading a book by a hippie Buddist nun from Arizona and I’m getting the same thing out of it as you are from your NY Time’s Bestseller List.

    Be Here Now. Live Now.

    Does everyone have this problem?

    Everyone but a hippie Buddist nun from Arizona?

  9. Megan says:

    I just finished that book, and I, too resisted it b/c it was what all of the perfectly manicured girls on the train were reading for the past year and surely I could not enjoy what they do.

    That said, I related and really enjoyed it…except for the part where she meets her Brazilian lover b/c I’ve had one of those (I married it), and he was a self-obsessed, abusive jerk. So…there was that. But overall, I surrendered to it.

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